Bags full of money were confiscated from Eva Kaili, the arrested Greek Vice President of the European Parliament. The money probably comes from Qatar. Who is the woman at the center of this corruption scandal?

Abroad, the name Eva Kaili hasn’t meant anything to most people so far. But at home in Greece and in the European scene, the Vice President of the European Parliament is well known. The 44-year-old was one of the youngest people ever elected to the Greek parliament. The “mirror” already praised her in 2011 as “the far-sighted one”. The Brussels connoisseurs of “Politico” put her on a list of MEPs with the greatest influence.

Since Friday evening, her name has also been known to people who don’t have much to do with Greece and Europe. The Belgian judiciary had Eva Kaili arrested on suspicion that she was bribed by a Gulf state. According to dpa information, it is Qatar. Although of course the presumption of innocence also applies to the MEPs, the outrage is great.

At the age of 26, the trained architect was elected to the city council of her native city of Thessaloniki. Previously, she had already succeeded as a presenter at the high-rating private broadcaster Mega TV. The socialist party Pasok quickly became aware of her. In 2007 she was first elected to the National Parliament of Athens for Pasok. She also completed a master’s degree in International and European Relations.

As the “Spiegel” report from 2011 goes on to say, there were often “murmurs” because of her appearance. This then turned into open sexism, and Kaili was attacked with obscene terms. The obvious reason: in 2011 she refused to support the then Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, a party friend, and asked him to resign.

A group colleague then insulted her at a group meeting with vulgar comparisons. According to “Spiegel”, Kaili defended herself against the attack “with a trembling voice”. The magazine praised at the time that Kaili had “quite farsightedness”. “Because not only the EU neighbors felt betrayed by Papandreou’s maneuvers, the majority of his own countrymen also rejected the referendum. Papandreou’s departure cleared the way for independent banker Loukas Papademos and a long-overdue national unity government.”

But Kaili’s time in the National Assembly ended in 2012. It was slowed down by Pasok boss Evangelos Venizelos, who came from the same constituency and ran there himself. Kaili then reoriented herself.

According to her website, she has also worked in Greece as a consultant to a media and business group, the Association of Pharmaceutical Industry and the Ministry of Interior as Chair of the Center for Gender Equality.

In 2014 she was elected to the European Parliament. There she made a name for herself in scientific matters. She was also involved in the issues of migration and child protection. On her homepage, she proudly announces that she was named “MEP of the year in digital politics” in 2018.

According to media reports, Kaili is privately in a relationship with an Italian political advisor who was also arrested on Friday. Francesco Giorgi is a member of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament.

According to a report in the Belgian newspaper L’Echo, Kaili’s father was found “in possession of a suitcase full of cash” and was on the move “as investigators believe he was warned by his accomplices”.

A speech she gave in Parliament after a visit to Qatar on November 21 is now attracting a lot of attention. In it, the vice president praised the Gulf state: “The football World Cup in Qatar is proof of how sports diplomacy can achieve historic change in a country with reforms that have inspired the Arab world.” She praised herself as “the only one” who said that Qatar is a “pioneer in labor rights”. Qatar has at least abolished the kafala. Kafala refers to a guarantee system that makes foreign workers virtually serfs of their employers. In fact, this system has apparently been abolished in Qatar, although human rights organizations continue to criticize the country.

Kaili said at the time that Qatar had “voluntarily committed itself to a vision and opened up to the world despite the challenges”. She attacked the Qatar critics head-on: “Nevertheless, some here call for discrimination against them. They harass them and accuse anyone who speaks or engages with them of corruption. But they still take their gas. Their companies are still making billions in profits there.”

Apparently, however, it was mainly Kaili who benefited from the Qataris’ money.

Now she is in prison. According to the Belgian media, the investigating judge must decide on a possible pre-trial detention within 48 hours of the arrest, i.e. by Sunday at the latest. According to the public prosecutor’s office, the Belgian judge’s investigations are aimed at “corruption” and “money laundering” in an organized way.

MEP Eva Kaili, arrested on corruption charges, has been dismissed as Vice-President of the European Parliament. Parliament President Roberta Metsola revoked the 44-year-old “with immediate effect from all powers, duties and tasks” as her deputy.

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